Prey selection by juvenile walleye as influenced by prey morphology and behavior

Lisa M. Einfalt, David H. Wahl

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Mechanisms influencing selection of prey by juvenile walleye (Stizostedion vitreum; 100-210 mm) were examined in a series of laboratory experiments. Size preference was determined in aquaria (72 L) by introducing four to six individuals (5-mm length increments) of either bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), or golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) with a walleye from one of five length classes. Based on prey length, walleye selected ]mailer bluegill (20-32% of walleye total length) than either gizzard shad (24-33%) or golden shiner (38-43%). However body depths of selected prey were similar across species (5-9% of walleye length). Preferences did not always agree with predictions from an optimal foraging model (handling time/prey dry mass), with walleye choosing larger prey based on both length and body depth. Species preference experiments in 2-m pools showed number of prey captures were higher for gizzard shad (76%) than for golden shiner (17%) and bluegill (7%). To explain differential prey vulnerability, observations of predator and prey behavior were conducted in a 750-L tank. Mean captures per strike were highest for gizzard shad (0.41), followed by golden shiner (0.32) and bluegill (0.13). Behavior and morphology, unique to each prey species, influenced walleye predation success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2618-2626
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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